Chapter 8. The Four Categories of Petition in Prayer.
There are certain ways that God answers prayer that the believer must recognize. For example, when you offer a petition or prayer for yourself to God, there is the thing for which you ask, called the petition, and then behind that petition is your desire or motive for it. The four categories we will look at show that God views both parts of your prayer as separate, and answers each part either positively or negatively.
1. In the first category, the petition is answered yes, but your desire behind it is answered no. For example, if you pray to make a million dollars, the desire behind the prayer is to make you happy. God answers the petition yes, so you make a million dollars; however the desire is answered no; it doesn’t make you happy.
Let me illustrate this Biblically. In 1Sa 8, the Jews wanted to have a human king they could see (the petition), so they could be like other nations as they thought that would make them happy (the desire).
Samuel warned them in 1SA 8:19-22, Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, “No, but there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” Now after Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the Lord’s hearing. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to their voice, and appoint them a king.” So Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.” Now, God answered their petition yes, and permitted them to pick out their own king. They wanted someone who was taller, stronger, and more handsome than the kings of the nations around them; and by this criterion they picked Saul. So their petition was answered yes; however, their desire to be happy with a human king was answered no; Saul turned out terrible and the Jews suffered miserably as a result.
We also have another account where the Lord answered the prayer, but the desire behind the prayer was not fulfilled. In PSA 106:13-15, the Jews were tired of the great divine provision of manna, the greatest health food ever, and they requested another type of food that they thought would satisfy them. This is the grass is always greener on the other side syndrome. PSA 106:13-15They quickly forgot His works; They did not wait for His counsel, But craved intensely in the wilderness, And tempted God in the desert. So He gave them their request, But sent a wasting disease among them. They longed for the Egyptian meat and food they used to eat, so God answered their petition yes; He sent them quail. However, the desire for satisfaction was not answered; instead, they suffered terribly from it and thousands died. So when you offer a petition or prayer for yourself to God, there is the thing for which you ask, called the petition, and then behind that petition is your desire or motive for it. The Lord may allow the petition to be answered even though the desire will not be met.
2. In the second case, the petition is answered no, yet the desire is answered yes. This means that the answer to the petition or to the request is no, but the desire behind the petition is answered yes. Continuing with our example: No, you will not make a million dollars, but yes, you will be happy. In GEN 17:18 Abraham prayed that Ishmael, the son of Hagar, might be his heir, And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before Thee!” God said no to Ishmael becoming his heir, but yes to the desire behind it which was to have an heir; he eventually had Isaac.
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